Over the years Himachal Pradesh has taken strides in reducing extreme poverty and has emerged as one of the states with the best human development outcomes in India, a new World Bank report said Wednesday.
The report, 'Scaling the Heights: Social Inclusion and Sustainable Development in Himachal Pradesh', is a macro-social account of the state's achievements over the past several decades and an attempt to understand the factors that allowed the state to move toward social inclusion and sustainable development.
Given the state's success in the past decades, the report is optimistic about its future. "The chances that the future will be a reflection of the past are high."
"The World Bank report highlights how the state has effectively balanced economic growth with good human development outcomes and has successfully reduced poverty among different groups in the state," a statement by state's minister for social justice and empowerment Dhani Ram Shandil said.
However, he said, it has captured issues of concern for the state such as the decline in the female child sex ratio, under nutrition in children and an ageing population.
One of the main achievements was its success in raising people out of poverty. Between 1993-94 and 2011, there was a four-fold drop in poverty in the state. Rural poverty, in which 90 percent of its population lives, declined from 36.8 percent to 8.5 percent. The overall poverty decline benefitted all social groups across rural and urban areas.
Educational attainment, said the report, was among the best in the country; poverty headcount was nearly one-third of the national average; life expectancy was 3.4 years longer than an average Indian expected to live; and per capita income was the second highest in India.
Further, Himachal Pradesh is ahead of many other Indian states in demonstrating a sense of environmental consciousness, said the report.
"Himachal Pradesh stands apart from many states in India with its strong track record of poverty reduction, service delivery, and human and social development outcomes," said Maitreyi Das, lead social development specialist of the World Bank and an author of the report.